Apartment landlord attempted to evict tenant with emotional support animal

JOHNSON COUNTY, Kan. — A young Johnson County man says his dog is more than just a pet, it helps him fight depression. Therefore, federal law helps protect their companionship. But that didn’t stop Tyler Washington’s landlord from trying to evict him and accusing him of sneaking his pet onto the property.

Animals that help you battle depression or anxiety or post traumatic stress disorder are called ‘Emotional Support Animals.’ Landlords have to let you keep them, something Washington knew, but he still needed FOX 4 Problem Solvers help hanging on to his dog.

“She helps my anxiety go away a lot faster than a pill would,” Washington said.

Washington is only 21 but takes a series of medications to deal with depression and other forms of mental illness. It was his Johnson County therapist who encouraged him to get a dog.

“I laugh now. I smile, something I didn’t do much before,” Washington said.

But Washington’s landlord, who owns the Johnson County apartment complex which doesn’t allow pets, isn’t smiling.

“He served me with an eviction notice. It’s either you or your dog,” Washington said.

That’s why he contacted Problem Solvers. He knows that legally he should be able to keep Princess, because she isn’t just a pet, she’s a service dog. Plus, Washington has a letter from his therapist saying he needs Princess for emotional support.

Under the Federal Fair Housing Act that’s all Washington needs to hang on to the pet he says is a medical necessity. But that didn’t sway his landlord. In fact, the day we visited Tyler, he was moving out of his apartment, knowing his last day was just days away.

But landlord/tenant attorney Bob Wiseman said it’s a court battle he stood to win. Wiseman acknowledged there is frustration among landlords as service animals become more and more common.

“It would be silly to ask why does a blind person need a guide dog. We all know that. But why does a person with no apparent disability need the cat with them? That’s a little harder to figure out,” Wise said.

But Wise also said the law is clearly on the side of the pet owner.

“You have the right to request verification and once you get that verification, it’s done,” Wise said.

That’s something Washington’s landlord must have figured out because by the time this case was filed with the courts, the landlord was no longer claiming Washington had an illegal pet. Instead the landlord argued that he hadn’t paid his rent on time.

That’s something Washington denied. His attorney Michelle Burns told the  judge that the only reason his rent was late was because the landlord stopped answering the door every time he tried to pay it. The judge ruled in favor of Tyler Washington, who now no longer has to worry that he and Princess will be evicted from their home.

11 comments

  • witty

    IMO Fox4 problems solvers missed the mark on this one. Some people prefer to live in a pet free housing due to allergies or noise. It doesn’t matter what the reason, other tenants have rights too. Likewise, landlords have the right to not allow pets. Why should the wants of one person infringe on the rest? This tenant shouldn’t have called problem solvers. He should move to pet friendly housing. Problem solved!!! Landlord is happy, Tyler and dog happy, other residents of the complex happy, future tenants with allergies will be happy. Happy happy happy. See Fox4, that was easy. Why couldn’t you help Tyler find appropriate housing?

    • Katiedid

      Is it possible he IS a veteran who saw more death, hatred, carnage than you ever will? He was fighting for YOUR freedom. I haven’t seen ANYONE address that fact. NOBODY knows the entire story.

  • btljooz

    Landlords rent to kids all the time. They are a LOT more destructive than a lot of pets and definitely a LOT more destructive than service animals. It should be just as illegal to discriminate against pets that are legal in every way as it is illegal to discriminate against kids.

    @witty and Alex: “Why should the wants of one person infringe on the rest?” Then why should animal haters like you be able to keep an animal lover like me from having a pet? It goes BOTH ways, dudes!!!

    What you want to do in YOUR OWN apartment is YOUR business as long as you aren’t playing your stereo as loud as you can or stomping around above the apartment below you at 2AM. The same goes for anyone else in THEIR OWN apartment! If you don’t like living around others and their pets and/or noises, then live in a HOUSE and _NOT_ an apartment!!!

    • witty

      It is sad that you are attacking other readers comments with wild assumptions. I’m not an animal hater like you accused me of being; I’m a hopeless animal lover. The point i was trying to make is that we have rules, laws, ordinances. I posted my opinion without attacking other readers opinions. I will give you a compliment though. I find that the best part of reading the news stories online is the comments. It’s comments like yours that are more entertaining then the news story..

  • TheCaptain

    Move to a place that allows you to skirt the law with your made up “emotional service dog”. What is so stressful in your life that makes you depressed, would it be getting everything for free!

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  • caira

    it is federal law to have a service animal thats like saying a person who needs a wheelchair cant have one because it disturbs other people im going threw this right now as for people with allergies i live in a mobile home no one is forced to be around my animal and my animal isnt in common areas besides outdoors so why is my landlord having such a problem with it if no one is being bothered by my animal explain that and as far as damages to my unit I own my unit i pay to live here so why are my rights being violated? a service animal is just as essential as medication or any other treatment so if the owner of the animal isnt causing any harm by LAW IT IS A LEGAL FEDERAL RIGHT AND DISCRIMINATION AGAINST THE DISABLED IF THESE RIGHTS ARE VIOLATED!!!!

  • caira

    also as far as moving i have 2 small children and rent where i live for an apartment is way out of my budget thats why i live here in the first place is to keep a roof over my kids head without having to choose between rent and something to eat so people saying just move its not that easy plus if you break your lease early its a UD on your record for 7 years and next to impossible to rent anywhere with this on your record so if you think you know it all you dont not everyone has the means to just move as stated above and if the guy was wrong how come he won his case

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